Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Five Years of Beer from the Center of the Universe

Posted By on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 12:15 PM

Who’d have thought a former professional baseball player and his engineering-nerd brother could move to little ole Ashland and make a success of a craft brewery?

Florida natives Chris Ray and Phil Ray, two of Style's 2015 Top 40 Under 40, moved to Virginia, thanks in part to the new-at-the-time Virginia law that allows breweries to serve beer on site. They opened Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Hanover County, where Chris’s wife, Alice, is from.

Although the Rays had home-brewed, they didn’t trust their amateur experience to transfer to large-scale brewing, so they brought in an experienced production brewer. Mike Killelea came from Richmond’s Legend Brewing Co. as the Ashland operation's first head brewer. Phil also brought an accomplished social media marketer to the game — his wife, Ashley. After all, even the best business benefits from a good storyteller.

A beer that has been on the roster since the first day, Ray-Ray’s Pale Ale, reminds customers who the owners are while telling their tale pictorially. Another first-day tap, the Richard, was really a brewing mistake, but one that turned out so well that it makes an annual reappearance on anniversaries, including this one.

Pocahoptas IPA, which has also been part of the lineup since the beginning, is among Richmond’s best-selling beers. The brew team includes approachable crowd-pleasing beers such as Slingshot Kölsch and geek-pleasing beers like Shut Up, an imperial stout aged in bourbon and red wine barrels, as well as Chic Saison, a French farmhouse saison brewed with Asian mangosteens that won silver for the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup.

Beer-loving Richmond baseball fans can also be grateful. The Rays kicked off a collaboration with the Richmond Flying Squirrels in the form of Chin Music, an easy-drinking, crisp, amber lager. The beer is available year-round, but you can also find it on tap at the Diamond, joined by a variety of other craft beers.

Community-minded spirit has infused the brewery, known as COTU, five years of business, starting most notably with Homefront IPA, a nationally brewed collaboration beer that supports the Wounded Warrior Project.

Other charitable contributions — $21,578 this past year— went to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support children with cancer, Virginia Commonwealth University's Institute for Contemporary Art, the Richmond Fisher House Foundation and CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation.

El Duderino has swaggered into the annals of the brewery's history, too. Besides being a bold stout with shades of White Russian cocktails inspired by “The Big Lebowski,” the Dude has persuaded hundreds of adults to wander Carytown in bathrobes, to contribute a total of thousands of dollars to the Byrd Theatre Foundation and to yell their favorite movie lines to a packed audience.

Having home-brew roots themselves, the Rays are also happy to support the local home-brew community. One way they’ve accomplished this is through the annual Wort Share Competition: Home-brewers take home a measure of the same brewery wort and finish the brewing process at home, adding hops and other ingredients. The winning beer is brewed on the big system and becomes the year’s RVAle beer. Macon Mint Milkshake, the 2017 winner, is a chocolate peppermint milk stout that will make appearances around downtown Ashland for the Dec. 9 Jolly Jaunt.

In early 2017, the Rays held a grand opening for a second brewery, Origin Beer Lab, in downtown Ashland. The small brewery and tasting room operates as a pilot system for the larger operation. The brewing system is in proportion to the large-scale system, so any worthy Origin beer can be scaled up for more production.

In the five years since opening, the brewery also has added a comfortable beer-garden patio, expanded its brewing system, redecorated and enlarged the tasting room, added arcade games and expanded distribution. This year saw its beer in Roanoke, and 2018 will see the brewery’s products in the Washington market.

Upgrades on the way include a canning line modification to accommodate both 12- and 16-ounce cans, and a new silo. Monthly seasonals will soon be packaged in 16-ounce 4-packs rather than 750-milliliter bottles. And March will see the brewery’s first new year-round beer in four years, Chameleon IPA, changing up regularly in ingredients and in label color.

Last weekend, the brewery threw a birthday party for itself. “We tapped old brews, new brews, and saw lots of friendly faces throughout the weekend!” says Ashley Ray. “It was pretty awesome.”

Weekly Food Notes: Groceries, Cheese + More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 10:15 AM

Turkey’s what’s on most people’s minds today — and driving. Last week was the big news week, but still a couple of things happened around here, food-wise.

Wondering about the delay with the former Martin’s locations and soon-to-be Publix stores in Carytown and the Village Shopping Center? I got in touch with Publix representative Kimberly Reynolds. “These two locations require more work,” she says, “whereas our previous openings were remodels. We are still working through the plans with the landlord and opening timeframes are still to be determined.” The Times-Dispatch reports that the Village Shopping Center spot will be demolished. Interestingly, the site sits astride the Richmond and Henrico border, so Publix is still waiting for the go ahead from the city, although Henrico has already approved the plan.

With grocery delivery services like Instacart, Shipt and Amazon Prime getting into the game, it almost seems the inevitable that a meal-planning app would pop up. PlateJoy works with Instacart and offers six-month and yearly subscriptions, reports Richmond BizSense.  You enter your likes, dislikes, cooking skills and any food allergies and the app will spit out a weekly menu, including recipes, and a grocery list.

And BizSense also reports on what the heck is going on a Zzaam in Carytown. Owner Derek Cha is planning a mini food court out front. “The project will convert Zzaam’s building at 3300 W. Cary St. to allow it to share the property with a barbecue joint, bubble tea concept, self-serve bar and itinerant oyster bar,” writes J. Elias O'Neal. And we all need to give many props to O’Neal for using “itinerant.” I so love your word choice, Elias!

Are you a guest, not a host, this year? Before you hit the road, decide on a designated driver and treat yourself to the Last Minute Holiday Survival Party at coffee shop Chairlift at Brenner Pass at 3200 Rockbridge St., right next door to its sibling, Brenner Pass, in Scott’s Addition. From noon to 8 p.m., you can grab wine, cheese, charcuterie and bakery items to impress your hosts, all the while sipping cocktails and nibbling on cheese.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Recommendations: Bring Beer to the Holiday Table

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 2:36 PM

Now that Virginians have established that our early settlers were the first to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s time for us to claim our just heritage. And beer is a proud part of that, even here at the fall line of the James River.

In 1607, when Christopher Newport and a band of explorers sailed upriver from Jamestown, they carried food, weapons, goods for trade, brandy, wine and beer — or “beere,” as they called it. They shared that beer with the Powhatans that they happened to meet — then as now, a little alcohol can act as a handy social lubricant. The English and the natives feasted, drank and danced.

As Lee Graves explains in “Richmond Beer: a History of Brewing’s in the River City”: “They partied a little too hard,” for Chief Powhatan’s son, Parahunt, who became quite ill. “Newport assured him that he would feel better after sleeping it off. When this proved true, Newport achieved status as a medicine man.”

Though the Europeans’ conquest of the people who preceded them may not be cause for celebration, most Virginians will nonetheless be celebrating this early American holiday, whether feasting with family and friends, or simply enjoying a day off.

To share some early “beere” traditions at your holiday meal, consider the following pairing and giftsuggestions, available locally. And have a couple of growlers in your trunk, in case the beers are only available on tap.

Pairs with turkey
Choose a subtle beer that still possesses some character, like a witbier or amber ale. The subtlety won’t overwhelm the bird, while the character will bring out the best in the preparation. Try Strangeways Brewing’s’s Albino Monkey, Isley Brewing’s Co.’s Plain Jane, Port City Brewing’s Optimal Wit or Midnight Brewery’s Rockville Red.

Pairs with glazed ham
The slightly sweet and savory glazed ham calls for a beer that’s strong but balanced, like a German doppelbock or Belgian dubbel. Such beers highlight malty, earthy, dark fruit flavors. Look for Ayinger’s Celebrator or Corsendonk Pater’s dubbel. Still dark but lighter, look for Midnight Brewery’s Not My Job brown or Köstritzer’s Schwarzbier.

Pairs with stuffing
Let the flavors or herbs and grains do a happy dance on your palate by pairing the stuffing with a farmhouse ale or saison, like Ardent Craft Ales’ Saison, Pale Fire Brewing’s Salad Days or Flying Dog Brewery’s Raging Bitch Belgian IPA.

Pairs with sweet potatoes
If you top your potatoes with marshmallows, let the darker malts in a brown ale or porter pull out the flavors in the lightly toasted topping. Look for Legend Brewing Co.’s Brown or Alewerks’ BBP bourbon-barrel-aged porter with Haitian sugar.

If you have nuts in the casserole, complement them with a nut brown ale from St. George Brewing’s Co. or Samuel Smith.

If your sweet potatoes, like my family’s, are sparse on the spices — merely a touch of sugar and cinnamon — find an unexpected complement in a balanced pale ale or IPA, like Center of the Universe Brewing Co.’s Ray Ray’s pale ale or Kindred Spirit Brewing’s Headspace. You know how tropical ingredients sometimes find their way into sweet potatoes? Grab a Stone Brewing’s Tangerine Express IPA.

Pairs with pound cake and shortbread cookies
Let a mild-flavored dessert play second fiddle to the beer: a dark, rich stout like Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s Gingerbread Stout or Väsen Brewing’s Co.’s Crimson Walrus, Well’s Banana Bread Beer or a pumpkin beer — yes, I went there — like Strangeways Brewing’s Gingerbread Gourd of Thunder.

Pairs with pumpkin pie
Does anyone really know what pumpkin tastes like, or do we just know the spices that signal the holidays? Celebrate this pairing with a spiced holiday ale, such as Midnight Brewery’s Christmas at Midnight.

Makes a safe host/hostess gift
No single category of beers pairs with everything as well as Belgian beers. Unless you know your hosts’ and guests’ beer preferences, a Belgian pale ale can play well at the party without coming on too strong, like Palm or Duvel Belgian Ale. Push the envelope just a bit with a Belgian blond — the ale, not the one you’re bringing home to meet the family — like Leffe Blond or Unibroue Blanche de Chambly. Locally, consider Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s Singel or Strangeways Brewing’s Albino Monkey.

If you’re visiting avowed beer haters, a holiday dinner is not the time to educate them on the error of their ways. Instead, remember that Richmond’s cideries, wineries and distilleries — and its meadery — offer the buzz without the barley and hops.

So, enjoy a little of the social lubricant this holiday — but avoid having to re-create Christopher Newport’s alleged powers of healing.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Recipe: the Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Yes, Thanksgiving is almost here.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 3:10 PM

This lightly edited version originally published on my blog, Brandon Eats, way back in 2006. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but I am attending one with 38 other family members. I plan on bringing pumpkin pie, and I think all of you should, too. In fact, I would go so far to say that it’s mandatory.

I don't have time for this. I can't write because the 27 members of my husband's immediate family (no aunts, cousins, grandparents, no, no, just the nuclear family with parents, wives, husbands and offspring) will arrive Thursday and that's only three days away.

So, in between finally finishing the kitchen, cleaning out a jam-packed trunk room so I can fit other, equally unnecessary stuff from all over the house into it, the Salvation Army has seen a spike in donations, and my curtains met water for the very first time. This is serious cleaning, my little poults and writing is a luxury.

However, I would be seriously remiss if I didn't share a few Thanksgiving secrets — you know, things like brine your turkey — a bucket on the back porch works great this time of year as temperatures plunge nightly, but make sure that you weight the lid so the urban wildlife doesn't help themselves to a midnight snack — I kept that particular secret to myself last year, make your own cranberry sauce, etc., etc.

Except that every other food magazine/cookbook/blog tells you to do all of those things, too — except for the animal part — that's gleaned exclusively from my particular experience. They don't, however, give you the perfect, the only, the ultimate pumpkin pie recipe to cherish and share.

It's not my recipe — no, no, no, I could never match the sheer subtlety of cookbook author Marion Cunningham's pie. Her recipe both lightens and intensifies the pumpkin-ness of the pie, enhancing it with just a feather-light sprinkle of traditional spices. I don't bake and puree my own pumpkins, never fear, my testy pilgrims — or Jamestown colonists who really had the first Thanksgiving thirteen years before those religious fanatics in Massachusetts — you Virginians know who you are.

I use Libby's, or actually, an organic canned pumpkin instead. Cunningham's genius is to add just a mere cup and a half of that canned pumpkin as opposed to the full 15 ounces the recipe on the back of the 15-ounce can calls for (hmmm . . . ). You have about half of a cup leftover, and so far I've found no use at all for it so you just throw it away. What! Yes, I still shudder and do it every Thanksgiving anyway.

Buy a pie from the store and compare this year, and you'll convert, like me, forever:

Marion Cunningham's Pumpkin Pie
(Invaluable tip: buy fresh spices every year for this pie and throw the old ones out, dammit, right this minute, before you even contemplate turning your oven on)

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon table salt

For the pie crust: Everyone has their favorite. I’m partial to the one by “Cooks Illustrated” that uses vodka to moisten the dough. If you don’t have a subscription to its site, the Kitchn has detailed instructions about how to make one. And, of course, there is no shame in buying one frozen. This pie is all about the filling.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make the dough according to instructions of your chosen recipe.

When that's done, roll it into a 12-inch round on a floured surface and then transfer (ha!) it to a 9-inch pie pan — don't use a not deep-dish one. Trim the edges, allowing a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold and crimp.

Fill the pie crust, carefully place it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until the filling is just set — as Cunningham reminds us, pumpkin pie is a custard — 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely and top with real whipped cream before serving.

Excerpted from “Lost Recipes” by Marion Cunningham. Copyright © 2003 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Friday, November 17, 2017

May a Local Stout Bring Light to a Dark Winter Night

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Perhaps no style hits as many notes and pleases as many palates as the inimitable, iconic and historic stout. Though quaffable year-round, breweries tend to tap their richest stouts this time of year.

If you’re one who quickly proclaims, “I don’t like dark beers,” please hear me out.

The dark color of a stout doesn’t mean that it’s stronger, more bitter or even higher in calories than a yellow beer. In fact, a 12-ounce serving of Guinness only sets you back 125 calories — 15 calories more than 12 ounces of Bud Light — and 4.2 percent alcohol content. A stout presents with a dark color only because the malted barley used to make it has been kilned, toasted or roasted longer than malts used to make a lighter beer. The chemistry of kilning, known as the Maillard effect, creates flavors like coffee, chocolate and toasted marshmallow, even if those ingredients aren’t added separately.

And since stouts tend to celebrate the flavors of the malts, hops are not a prominent player.

Nor can you judge a beer by its color. Though not typically quite as dark as a stout, other styles that pour dark, such as a Belgian dark strong ale or a black IPA, are distinguished by other potent flavor ingredients, such as yeast or hops.

The usage of the word “stout” to describe a beer goes back to the 17th century, when it described a stout butt beer, like the once-popular term “phat,” but not really. The British style sprang from porters, which also have deep roots and questionable heritage.

Since its shady birth, the style has parented —and grandparented — a multitude of offspring, most of which can be found around Richmond. An early offspring, an Irish dry stout — think the beer that Arthur Guinness introduced to Dublin in 1759 — uses roasted barley instead of malted barley. By skipping the malting process, breweries saved on taxes. Clearly, tax dodging is not confined to the modern world. The ploy resulted in a smooth, roasty, coffee-like taste and a lower alcohol content.

Dry stouts play well with nitro pours, which mixes draft beer with nitrogen as well as carbon dioxide, for a dramatic presentation and fluffy mouthfeel. Around the same time, British foreign export stouts were more heavily hopped to take advantage of hops’ preservative value and thus were more bitter than an Irish dry stout. As an example, try Final Gravity Irish Goodbye — and don’t let the Irish moniker fool you.

A milk stout has a sweet origin story as a drink for invalids and pregnant women. The non-fermentable lactose sugar leaves more sweetness in the final beer. Milk stouts make a tasty base for flavor additions such as chocolate and vanilla. More on that later.

Early oatmeal stouts flaunted truth in advertising, adding oats merely to claim that the beer was healthy. Brewers later realized that oats can impart a soft, rich, creamy texture and a hint of nuttiness. Two to try in Richmond include Castleburg Oatmeal with hints of chocolate, coffee or fruits and Twisted Ales Déjà Voodoo that evokes sweet cherries, Madagascar vanilla beans and subtle chocolate notes.

Imperial implies bigger and stronger, and imperial and Russian imperial stouts do pack a punch with a higher alcohol content. Its heritage springs from tales of strong English porters that became popular with Russian imperial court in the 1700s. Try Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Virginia Black Bear. This Russian imperial stout includes high-alpha American hops. There’s also Ardent Dark Rye, an American imperial stout with spicy notes from rye in the grain bill.

The dark malts in stouts make friends with a diversity of partners, resulting in a multitude of offspring with added ingredients and/or aging in spirit barrels. As milk stouts make ideal partners for dessert-like ingredients, imperial stouts gravitate towards spirit barrels.

Besides the ever-popular, trending Hardywood Gingerbread Stout and its variants, here are others to look for locally:

Isley Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Porter: There’s too much overlap between stouts and porters not to include this local favorite, made with oats and PB2.

7 Hills Fantasme De Chocolat: Milk stout with cocoa powder and raw cocoa nibs. Poured on nitro for a fluffy mouthfeel.

Kindred Spirit Belgian Stout: A specialty beer rather than an official style, the Belgian stout adds the fruity, spicy notes of Belgian yeast.

Center of the Universe Brewing Co. Orange Is the New Stout: An imperial chocolate stout crafted with oranges and sea salt (releasing Dec. 2nd).

Triple Crossing Long Bright Dark: Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and vanilla beans.

Andalls at the Answer Brewpub: Stouts are regularly infused with a variety of creative complementary flavors, such as coconut, maple syrup, nuts and more.

Väsen Walrus series: The base stout imparts flavors of rich milk chocolate, roasted malt and figs. Variants include the Crimson Walrus with red raspberries, the Sour Walrus with a touch of tart and the Wired Walrus with Blanchard coffee beans.

Blue Mountain Dark Hollow: My all-time favorite barrel-aged imperial stout comes in a smaller 375-mililiter bottle, unlike most big beers, which typically come only in large-format bottles.

Starr Hill Box of Chocolates: Starting with the Double Bass stout with cocoa additions, the series includes peppermint, chipotle and mocha.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Prix Fixe, Handles + More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM

Fest, the latest offshoot of Capital Ale House, is opening at 7044 Woodlake Commons in Midlothian on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. The biergarten and Oktoberfest concept strips down the menu to sausages, cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches and big pretzels — simple fare that marries well with beer. You'll find German, other European and local brews on tap and in bottles. facebook.com/festmidlothian.

The windows have been dark since Amour Wine Bistro closed in Carytown at the end of the summer, but on Friday, Nov. 17, the Broken Tulip Social Eatery will turn the lights back on. Owners David Crabtree-Logan and Sariann Lehrer will offer a prix fixe dinner menu Thursday to Saturday and another for brunch on Sundays. Reservations are required. thebrokentulip.com.

Tazza Kitchen’s latest outpost is currently under construction in Scott’s Addition and the opening is planned for December. The company has also moved its headquarters there and has an enormous new central kitchen for prep work and events. tazzakitchen.com.

After the death of Camden’s Dogtown Market’s front of the house manager and the departure of its sous chef, owner Andy Howell decided to suspend dinner hours. Right now, he’s gearing them back up with an evening prix fixe menu — lunch will stay the same — with more adventurous choices. “For the last month, we have been offering a constantly changing, three-course dinner menu for $20. We’ve fine-tuned the selections, gone through a couple of false starts on staff, but seem to be leveling off with a tasty and tight-knit plan,” Howell says. cdmrva.com.

Pik Nik, the former Fan Noodle Bar and the latest spot from Joe and Sonny Kiaturson, has added brunch hours starting on Saturday, Nov. 18, and also will remain open on Thanksgiving. facebook.com/piknikrva.

Today is the last day to take advantage of Virginia ABC stores’ deal on those big, 1.75 liter bottles of liquor, some have handles. They're offering 20 percent off until close tonight. On Black Friday, Nov. 24, you can get 15 percent off if you buy more than $75 of its products and 20 percent off purchases above $100. The ABC is even getting into Cyber Monday on Nov. 27. You can check out its 20-percent-off deals that day online at abc.virginia.gov.

And this might be helpful — the Times-Dispatch reports that the cost of a typical Thanksgiving meal is up by almost 15 percent.

Bistro 27 is under repair after flooding, reports Richmond magazine. The restaurant is closed until Tuesday, Nov. 20, because of flooding. “Owner William Wright says the European bistro will shift to a menu that focuses heavily on coastal seafood — all with lighter sauces.” bistrotwentyseven.com.

Metro Grill is launching a new menu on Tuesday, Nov. 27. It’s part of the restaurant’s new direction, and owner Joey McCullough will have drink representatives on hand that night to offer samples, plus the new menu will be 30 percent off that evening. metrogrillrva.com.

Coal Mine Coffee will hold its grand opening at 117 Brown's Way Road in Midlothian on Friday, Nov. 24. You can find out a little bit more about the history of coal mining in the area while sipping on a coffee drink, nibbling on breakfast, lunch or dessert, plus homemade fudge. facebook.com/coalminecoffeerva.

And don’t forget, it’s still Cider Week in Virginia. You can check out the events right here and puts some apples back into your life.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

New Carytown Restaurant Announces Its Opening

The Broken Tulip Society Eatery will launch a nightly prix fixe menu.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 5:54 PM

UPDATE: The new opening date for the Broken Tulip Social Eatery will be Friday, Nov. 17.

Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:51 a.m.: The Broken Tulip Social Eatery will open in Carytown on Thursday, Nov. 16, in the old Amour Wine Bistro space at 3129 W. Cary St.

Co-owner David Crabtree-Logan worked in Michelin-starred the Plumed Horse and the Kitchin in Edinburgh, Scotland, and his wife and co-owner Sariann Lehrer co-authored “A Feast of Ice and Fire: the Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook.”

“After several years and a couple of successful (if illegal) supper club operations in Oregon and Scotland, we settled in Richmond excited by the thriving food scene, long growing season and abundance of dedicated and talented farmers and artisans in the region,” its website says.

The couple promises a farm-to-table, prix-fixe menu that will be served to diners seated at three large communal tables. “We want it to be more than a place to eat,” Crabtree-Logan said in a news release. “We want people to interact with each other, and we know that the best way for that to happen is over good food.”

The Broken Tulip will be open for dinner from Thursday to Saturday with seatings at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and for brunch on Sunday with seatings at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Reservations are required. thebrokentulip.com

Friday, November 10, 2017

Changes at Camden’s Dogtown Market

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 3:30 PM

It’s been a tough year for the folks at Camden’s Dogtown Market in Manchester. A much-loved front of the house manager died unexpectedly this past September, and then owner and chef Andy Howell lost his sous chef when she felt that it was too hard to keep working in the place that reminded her of her friend and colleague.

Howell has decided to move ahead by making a few changes. For the last two months, he suspended dinner hours. “During that dinnerless month” he said in an email, “I had time to reconsider the mission of Camden’s, which has always been in regular flux, having been born from a failed noodle bar and reworked to meet what seemed to be the needs of the changing neighborhood — I wanted to call it Lemonade, but I didn’t have a dog named Lemonade.”

The solution? Camden’s will now offer a full-time prix fixe dinner menu. But prix fixe doesn’t mean lack of choice — there will still be options for diners within each course. And for anyone who may have sampled him at full flower when he owned Cafe Rustica, it’s an exciting change: Dishes such as veal saltimbocca with wilted spinach and fingerling potatoes, skillet-roasted shrimp, scallop and crab cakes, and lavender crème brulée will dot the menu.

“For the last month, we have been offering a constantly changing, three-course dinner menu for $20. We’ve fine-tuned the selections, gone through a couple of false starts on staff, but seem to be leveling off with a tasty and tight-knit plan,” Howell says.

Once the other market — The Butterbean Market & Cafe — opens, Howell says the market side of Camden’s will focus on wine and beer. Lunch and brunch menus will continue to be the same — “Though the special offerings are getting a bit more adventurous,” he says. The new hours are now 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays-Saturdays. cdmrva.com.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: a New Restaurant, Less Barbecue + More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 1:26 PM

It's actually happening: Permits have been granted to start the demolition of the old Pleasants Hardware store on West Broad Street, reports the Times-Dispatch. And we all know what that means — Whole Foods is really and truly on its way to the planned Sauer Center development. Organic, genetically unmodified, heritage arugula planted during a full moon will now be available to city dwellers, my friends.

File it under it-couldn’t-happen-to-a-nicer guy: Mike Ledsema of Kabana Rooftop and former executive chef for Richmond Restaurant Group is now in the design process to open his own spot, Perch, in the old Joy Garden space.

Why do you hate barbecue, Short Pump? Halligan Bar & Grill is the latest porky tragedy. The owners announced its closing and their retirement on its Facebook page. Halligan’s other location in Shockoe Bottom closed in August.

Mon Chou Pâtisserie, an organic and non-GMO French bakery, is now open at 306 E. Grace St. next to Godfrey’s. You can check out its living wall and seriously gorgeous pastries — macarons with strawberries and cream, anyone? — at instagram.com/monchourva.

In addition to its new gas-fired brick oven that’s baking buns, pitas and pizza, Fresca on Addison has also added dinner hours and delivery service. No excuses — healthy and delicious is available Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A New Restaurant for Scott's Addition

Mike Ledesema will open Perch in February.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Mike Ledesma has been behind the stove in some of your favorite restaurants: Patina Restaurant and Bar, most of the Richmond Restaurant Group places, such as Pearl Raw Bar and East Cost Provisions, where he eventually became executive chef, and finally, Kabana Rooftop. He’s now poised to open his own place, Perch, in Scott’s Addition at 2918 W. Broad St., the longtime home of the now-closed Joy Garden, in February.

Perch will offer a mash-up of Southern comfort food and pan-Pacific cuisine. A wood-fired oven is planned for the kitchen, plus a patio, a lounge, two private dining spaces and chef’s table, in addition to the main dining room. The six-seat chef’s table will face the kitchen, and Ledesema will offer a prix-fixe tasting menu there. “It’s a space where I can play with flavor profiles and see reactions to new menu items while guests are a part of the action,” Ledesema said in a news release.

“We really want to be a destination for the neighborhood and complement what’s already happening in Scott’s Addition,” he said.

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